Table of content
1 Obesity as the major health risk for the population of the Republic of Nauru –Causes and Impact ………………………………………………………………. 3
2 Possibilities and constraints of health protection policies in Nauru …………….. 4
2.1 Assessment of the requirements of adequate health policies in Nauru ……... 4
2.2 Discussion of Financing Options of Social Health Protection in the Case of
Nauru ………………………………………………………………………… 6
3 Conclusions and Recommendation ……………………………………………… 8
1 Obesity as the major health risk for the population of the Republic of Nauru –
Causes and Impact
The world’s smallest independent Republic Nauru, which is located in the South Pacific Ocean, set a distressing record of being one of the countries with the highest obesity rates. About 71.1 % adult of the population are considered to be obese (CIA 2014). Due to the WHO (2014), obesity is defined as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health”. The most important direct results or epiphenomena are cardiovascular diseases (e.g. stroke), which are mentioned by the WHO as the leading cause of death in 2012. Other ailments are diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders (e.g. osteoarthritis) some sort of cancer as well as mental disorders (WHO 2014).
Nowadays, obesity at Nauru may result from the lack of access to a healthy environment, especially lack of access to fresh and healthy food and lack of physical activity. Besides that, other reasons from previous periods have to be discussed shortly, which may also be responsible for the present situation.
After independence in 1968, Nauru used to be one of the richest countries in the world with high rates of GDP per capita due to its rich phosphate deposits. Due to bad governance, for instance the mismanagement of funds, lack of structural, economic and environmental policies, Nauru went bankrupt finally. Today, the republic is a low-income country and can be characterized by the following attributes:
Lack of established industries
Deteriorating capital plants
High unemployment rate of 90% due to estimations by the CIA of 2005 (CIA 2014)
Destroyed landscape (90% of the land are deteriorated due to intensive phosphate mining) (CIA 2014)
High dependency on imports of almost all goods (food and other consumer goods)
High dependency from aid, especially from the donor Australia
In spite of all these health problems, Nauru lacks a good health care system and it cannot afford to create one because of its weak economic and social state. Now, Nauru lacks the capacities to deal with the most important health risk obesity on the one hand, which affects the majority of the country. On the other hand it can be estimated, that Nauru will not be able to create an environment for the community to prevent further progress of overweight and obesity within the next years. For that reason it can be stated, that the country will not be able to deal with the problem in a proper way in the short and in the intermediate term.
In the light of this, the paper would examine the present situations of Nauru healthcare and why the standard financing options won′t work while also falsifying already tested hypotheses about the effectiveness of standard financing options.
2 Possibilities and constraints of health protection policies in Nauru
2.1 Assessment of the requirements of adequate health policies in Nauru
What are the requirements for an adequate health policy, and how might the situation in Nauru look like, in detail? In the following, this chapter is going to answer the stated questions. Therefore, it uses six basic indicators of good health policies; the focus on lifestyle and needs of population, consideration of other sectors relevant for health, participation of the population, use of locally available resources, integration and coordination of preventive, promotional, curative and rehabilitative measures, and decentralization of services.
With this, the subject of the following chapter is to create an understanding of Nauru′s situation today, while simultaneously trying to present the major problems.
Focus on lifestyle and needs of population
Beginning with lifestyle, we address directly one of the major problems. Before the country became rich, due to phosphate exportation, the population provided themselves through farming, fishing and hunting (20min 2011). The natural food and the gently cooking preparation, through boiling, supported the inhabitants with healthy, organic and substantial food. But with the growing income the eating habits changed towards imported, fat and durable food from the West, especially, meat and chips found their way in the supermarkets and so into stomachs of the population. Together with a low amount of working people, Nauruan grew fatter and unhealthier.
Another problem is that only processed or canned food finds its way on the island, until today, because the transportation of vegetables or fruits would take too long and would be too expensive. Even with an active government, the imported goods are still a problem (20min 2011).
The lifestyle of the population changed over the last decades. Today′s government focuses on the problem and is trying to support the population. Information on measures and programs are discussed in several media but are not published via official channels. Therefore it remains questionable, if the government′s efforts are sufficient and suitable to address the problems.
Use of locally available resources – considering their scarcity
The considerations of the government lead to daily walks of the president, anti-obesity campaigns, with signs and banners, and a support campaign for natural and healthy foods, which seemed to have some success. Especially the small trend towards more healthy food, developed with the growing poverty. Imported food is often more expensive than rural food. Therefore, the people do not have much of a choice and it is hardly to count as a success.
Participation of the population in search for solutions
The participation of the population seems rather small. Even though the average lifespan of a male Nauruan dropped under the age of 50, the support of the population is limited (WHO Nauru 2012). A few people profit from the working benefits, only the youngest go to school or college. The problem, the 95% obese people, are whether neither young nor working. Most of them are out of school and not working. Therefore, they do not see the necessity for change (Nauru Government 2014). Due to this, they are hard to motivate and engage. Participation of the population is critical for the success of all measures to reduce the health risks. It can be stated, that participation is rather low. It should be a major concern of the government to focus on that issue.
Consideration of other sectors relevant for health
With the acceptance and notion of the problem obesity, the government tried to support the population through single activities; additional focus on sport activities in the education system, free aerobic classes, the creation of sport tournaments, the provision of more sport areas and the support of those areas with the needed equipment and a guaranteed time for employees to do fitness. Naturally, because only a few people work, only a few benefit from the walking regulation, which does not support a change efficiently. Additionally, they started an anti-diabetes campaign and inform children in schools about the difficulties coming from an unhealthy lifestyle early on. As a result of this, the president walks every day, visible for everyone, on the landing zone of the airport, to motivate the population (20min 2011).
In terms of financing options, Nauru has to look for other, maybe unconventional financing options e.g. selling the right for an arts project (film, book) because of the countries unique past or Nauru could initiate a crowd funding campaign, which offers adventure vacation for money. Besides that, Nauru should focus on financing options, which makes the country independent from single donor states like Australia, e.g. credit at the World Bank.
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